Hollings Cancer Center Researcher Lands $8M Grant to Improve Cancer Outcomes for Minority Men

Contact: Grace Hummel

Aug 9, 2016

CHARLESTON, SC – The Medical University of South Carolina’s (MUSC) Hollings Cancer Center and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences were awarded an $8 million grant from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities and the National Cancer Institute to establish the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center in Precision Medicine and Minority Men’s Health at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC TCC).

In addition to MUSC, the center’s collaborating academic and community partners include the University of Pennsylvania, Hampton University, and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center, San Antonio and the Low Country Area Health Education Center, the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer, and the Hope Institute in Baltimore. Together with MUSC, these academic and community partners will conduct research that addresses the needs and priorities of minority men who live in diverse regions throughout the U.S.

SmartState Center of Economic Excellence AT&T Distinguished Endowed Chai in Cancer Equity and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences professor, Chanita Hughes-Halbert, Ph.D., serves as the contact principal investigator for MUSC TCC. Hughes-Halbert is also program leader for the Cancer Control Research Program at the Hollings Cancer Center, and is an expert in cancer prevention and control, minority health, and developing and implementing health interventions into clinical and community settings.

“The MUSC TCC is an important and innovative approach for improving health outcomes among minority men,” Hughes-Halbert said. “Limited efforts have been made to improve outcomes among men from racial and ethnic minority groups and the MUSC TCC in precision medicine will address this gap by using transdisciplinary strategies to integrate genomic, social, and psychological data to enhance equity in health and health outcomes among minority men.”

MUSC TCC aims to integrate existing strategies and determine new approaches for improving health outcomes among minority men through precision medicine. Genomic, social, clinical, and psychological data will be integrated using medical informatics to learn how these factors can be adapted into more precise medical strategies to prevent, diagnose, and treat chronic health conditions and diseases that disproportionately affect minority men in terms of morbidity and mortality. MUSC TCC consists of three projects led by MUSC faculty members Michael Lilly, M.D., Richard Drake, Ph.D., Jennifer Wu, Ph.D., Sebastiano Gattoni Celli, M.D., Steven Savage, M.D., and Gary Hardiman, Ph.D. The project investigators bring a range of expertise including health disparities, precision medicine, and transdisciplinary approaches for prostate cancer research. Project 1 will study the effects of the PROSTVAC vaccine among men with at high risk for recurrence. Project 2 will identify new biomarkers for prostate cancer based on metabolites, glycans, and immune modulators and will characterize the distribution of these biomarkers based on racial background, social factors, and psychological characteristics. Project 3 will evaluate the benefits of Vitamin D3 supplementation in African American and white men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

All projects within MUSC TCC will integrate data on stress biomarkers to understand the molecular, social, and psychological mechanisms through which these biomarkers affect disease processes and outcomes. In future projects, MUSC TCC “will continue to address other chronic diseases that are common among minority men, and develop best practices for implementing precision medicine into medical care, through continued partnerships with academic medical institutions, community-based health centers, and public health agencies that make up the TCC’s multi-regional consortium network,” Hughes-Halbert said.

About Hollings Cancer Center

The Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center and the largest academic-based cancer research program in South Carolina. The cancer center is comprised of more than 120 faculty cancer scientists with an annual research funding portfolio of $44 million and a dedication to reducing the cancer burden in South Carolina. Hollings offers state-of-the-art diagnostic capabilities, therapies and surgical techniques within multidisciplinary clinics that include surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation therapists, radiologists, pathologists, psychologists, and other specialists equipped for the full range of cancer care, including more than 200 clinical trials. For more information, visit hcc.musc.edu.

About MUSC

Founded in 1824, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) continues the tradition of excellence in education, research and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and nearly 800 residents in six colleges and has more than 17,000 employees. As the state’s only integrated academic health sciences center and largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $3.2 billion, with an annual economic impact of nearly $4 billion and annual research funding in excess of $284 million.

As the clinical health system of the Medical University of South Carolina, MUSC Health is dedicated to delivering the highest quality patient care available, while training generations of competent, compassionate health care providers to serve the people of South Carolina and beyond. Comprising some 1,600 beds, more than 100 outreach sites, the MUSC College of Medicine, the physicians’ practice plan, and nearly 275 telehealth locations, MUSC Health owns and operates eight hospitals situated in Charleston, Chester, Florence, Lancaster and Marion counties. In 2019, for the fifth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report named MUSC Health the No. 1 hospital in South Carolina.